Perceptions on the factors contributing to poor perfomance in earth geometry at school certificate level: The case of selected high schools on the Copperbelt

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Tembo, Fredson Oliver
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The purpose of the study was to establish the factors that contributed to learners’ poor performance in Earth Geometry at school certificate level, in selected high schools of the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. The study used Jean Piaget’s theory that identified the four stages of cognitive development; the sensorimotor, the preoperational, the concrete operational and the formal operational in which pupils seldom reside exclusively at one stage of development. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to study the factors that contributed to the poor performance in Earth Geometry at school certificate level. The interpretation and detailed discussion of quantitative data was made easier by qualitative data in establishing the factors that contributed to learners’ poor performance in Earth Geometry. The target population were the grade 12 learners, while the secondary school teachers of Mathematics and subject specialists of Mathematics from Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) and Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) were the informants, from the six (6) districts of the Copperbelt Province. Questionnaires and interviews were used to obtain information from respondents. Frequencies, pie charts and percentages were used to analyse the quantitative data obtained. The qualitative data collected were transcribed from the field notes and subjected to thematic analysis.The study found that the perceptions on the factors that contributed to poor performance in Earth Geometry were among others, method of transmission, lack of problem solving skills, lack of proof in earlier school years, lack of understanding of concepts and lack of in-depth knowledge among teachers. Among the recommendations were that: The Ministry of Education through the Curriculum Development Centre should introduce the basics of earth geometry in the syllabus at junior level. The inclusion of the topic at junior level would help in laying a better foundation for high school level; Teacher education colleges should provide content on Earth Geometry which was wider than the school syllabus to equip would be teachers to handle topics such as earth geometry; Workshops/seminars on Earth Geometry for teachers should be conducted in order to enhance the in-depth knowledge on the topic to enable them to teach with confidence; Ministry of Education through schools should provide teaching aids / resources to enhance effective teaching and Teachers of mathematics should utilize visual stimulus, such as manipulation of objects and relating them to the environment and hands-on activities as this would lead to learners’ active participation which might considerably facilitate development of geometric thinking skills.
Geometry--study and teaching